Building Community Through Poetry

The Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program is dedicated to building community through poetry by appointing and supporting an outstanding local poet as Poet Laureate for the city, sponsoring events that feature area poets and authors from outside the New Hampshire Seacoast, and encouraging a love of poetry among people of all ages.

Established in 1997 by local arts organizers and writers, the program brings people together to celebrate the written word and the talents of local and visiting artists.

Current Poet Laureate – Diannely Antigua

Diannely Antigua is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection Ugly Music  was the winner of the Pamet River Prize and a 2020 Whiting Award. She received her BA in English from the University of Massachusetts Lowell where she won the Jack Kerouac Creative Writing Scholarship; and received her MFA at NYU where she was awarded a Global Research Initiative Fellowship to Florence, Italy. She is the recipient of additional fellowships from CantoMundo, Community of Writers, Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program, and was a finalist for the 2021 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and chosen for the Best of the Net Anthology. She lives in Portsmouth and has been a fixture at all the readings in town where she has shown again and again that not only is she a great poet, but she also has an amazingly warm, friendly, and enthusiastic personality. And all of these qualities are the makings of a great poet laureate. We are so grateful that she has accepted her nomination for this post. We cannot wait to get to work with her on her projects and continue this twenty five year old tradition with the PPLP of building community with poetry in Portsmouth and beyond. 

Featured Poem

Father Son and Holy Ghost

I have not ever seen my father’s grave.
Not that his judgment eyes
have been forgotten
nor his great hands’ print
on our evening doorknobs
            one half turn each night
            and he would come
            drabbled with the world’s business   
            massive and silent
            as the whole day’s wish   
            ready to redefine
            each of our shapes
but now the evening doorknobs   
wait    and do not recognize us   
as we pass.
Each week a different woman   
regular as his one quick glass
each evening
pulls up the grass his stillness grows   
calling it weed.
Each week    a different woman   
has my mother’s face
and he
who time has    changeless
must be amazed
who knew and loved
but one.
My father died in silence   
loving creation
and well-defined response   
he lived    still judgments   
on familiar things
and died    knowing
a January 15th that year me.
Lest I go into dust
I have not ever seen my father’s grave.

Upcoming Events

No Events

Esther Buffler Residency

In 2002, friends and family of Esther Buffler, our first Poet Laureate, set up a memorial fund that will enable the Poet Laureate Program to arrange an annual residency for a poet-in-residence in the Portsmouth School Department.

Following her death, a residency was endowed to allow a selected to poet to spend part of a week (compensated) in the Portsmouth Public School system.

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